Left to right: Lars Åkerson and Katerina Friesen of the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition with representatives from Ka’ Kuxtal Much Meyaj, an Indigenous organization from Campeche, Mexico. (The latter are unnamed by their choice.) They attended the 2022 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

Representatives of the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery (DDoD) Coalition attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held April 25 to May 6, 2022. They accompanied partners from Ka’ Kuxtal Much Meyaj, a Maya-led Indigenous collective in Campeche, Mexico. A Green Mustard Seed grant from Mennonite Creation Care Network assisted with transportation costs.

The DDoD Coalition is a Mennonite coalition addressing the violence done “in the name of Christ” to Indigenous peoples and the earth. Many Indigenous communities don’t have legal title to their lands and therefore, governments often give Indigenous lands to extractive industries like logging, fracking and mining.

 Maya communities in Campechel are impacted by deforestation and water pollution from large agribusinesses and mega-development projects in the region, like the Maya Train project planned by the government without Maya peoples’ free, prior, and informed consent. The group invited members of the DDoD Coalition to accompany them to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to address these issues. The Forum provided valuable opportunities for networking and enabled the partners to meet in person for the first time. 

On the front lines

Indigenous peoples are still here, and around the world, they are on the front lines of climate change and environmental justice, protecting sacred waters and lands by resisting fossil fuel pipelines, challenging extractive industries like mining and logging. We wanted to lift up their voices that speak about the sacredness of land and water in this international platform,” Katerina Friesen, the DDoD Coalition organizer, explains. 

The Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition is also seeking connection with Low German Mennonite settlers involved in the water issues the Maya community faces, and has written articles for a newspaper that goes out to the Low German Mennonite colonies. Members of this network hope to visit the region in person next year.

While in New York, the Ka’ Kuxtal representatives spoke at Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship as well.

The photo of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City is by Terry Mosley on Unsplash.